Alaska News Nightly: May 12, 2008

Lawmakers are considering direct payments to Alaska residents to help offset the high cost of energy. Plus, a rare Aleut mask that was almost lost to a private collector comes home to the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Speaker Harris wants special session to consider energy cash for Alaskans
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alaska House Speaker John Harris is asking Governor Palin to expand the special legislative session next month to allow lawmakers time to develop a direct energy assistance plan to help all Alaskans immediately pay their high fuel bills. Proposed bills might make payments to residents or directly to utilities.

State launches $100 million home energy efficiency grant program
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alaskans facing high energy prices can take part in a state program going into effect this week to help lower fuel expenses. The Home Energy Rebate program is designed to make everyone’s life a little more comfortable.

Juneau electricity boss reflects on April avalanches, looks ahead
Weld Royal, KTOO – Juneau
Bill Corbus, chairman of the board of Juneau’s electric utility works in a two-room office downtown. It’s on the second floor next to a bank of elevators, but the 70-year-old Corbus uses the stairs — in the name of conservation. He says the April avalanches that severed Alaska Electric Light and Power’s connection to low-cost hydropower are the biggest calamity ever to hit the company.

Exxon Valdez plaintiff tax protections missing from Farm Bill on eve of passage
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Valdez
Congress has agreed on a final version of the U.S. Farm Bill. It now goes to the president to approve or veto. The legislation includes crop subsidies, increased food-stamp funding and tax breaks to racehorse owners. But one provision is conspicuously missing.

Centuries-old Aleut mask moves to new home in Anchorage
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
A rare wooden Aleut mask has a new home at the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) in Anchorage. APIA rescued the mask from an auction at Sotheby’s 10 years ago. Since then, it’s been on display at the Anchorage Museum. But now APIA has its own place of honor for the mask at its new building in Anchorage. (Photo by Dr. Doug Veltre)

New Petersburg-Kake road driving transportation discussion
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
State officials are moving forward with building a road connecting Petersburg and Kake. They say the link between the two island communities would support commerce as well as construction of a new power line. But the plan is raising concerns.

Alaska’s kids enjoying a stroll across Asia
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
Alaskan kids are walking across Asia. Well, they’re actually walking across a very large map of Asia. National Geographic’s “Traveling Map of Asia” is touring the state’s schools. It’s a hands- and feet-on approach to geography.